You’ve done the research, thought it through, and decided that teaching English abroad is the career for you – you’ve taken the first step on the road to beginning your new life as in English teacher! Transforming thought to action is a little easier said than done but a bit of legwork can make the rest of the process pretty simple, too. Indeed, if you do your homework the execution can be almost as easy as the decision itself. Fortunately for you, if you are interested in learning how to teach English abroad, you have come to the right place.
First, you need to decide where you want to teach. Picking a country that meets your needs – in whatever intangible measure that matters most to you – can make all of the difference. Alaska natives, ready to abandon the cold, might revel in the chance to live in equatorial Africa. Those who live to surf, on the other hand, might want a country like Indonesia where they can continue to indulge in their hobby. In any case, do a bit of research on the kind of culture that suits your needs and choose accordingly.
Research like that will pay far reaching dividends. The more you know about the situation the more will know what to expect from potential employers. Indeed, because each and every country has its own industry standards, each and every ESL opportunities must be considered in its own unique context. Depending on the country you choose, for example, salaries can vary from nonexistent (for 3-month volunteer positions at an orphanage in Honduras) to upwards of $60,000 a year (for 2-year commitments in restrictive environments like Saudi Arabia).
Outside of these extremes, however, many ESL opportunities around the world do conform to a general standard and are highly competitive with one another. South Korean public schools, for example, are keenly aware of the amenities offered by their nearby Chinese and Japanese counterparts and so all three offer roughly equitable salaries, benefits, and commitments. In the end, though, when you are considering how to teach English abroad, it is all about the homework: try to determine what the industry norms are for the country you are interested in and make sure position stacks up.
But wait, how do you find a job in the first place? In short, the same way you would in your home country: online advertisements, referrals, and professional recruitment agencies. Each has its pros and cons but both can be pursued one of two ways: remotely or on location. No matter how you do your search, a remote job search means you have guaranteed work before leaving home. Buyer beware, however: the job may be guaranteed but the actual conditions may not be.
On location searches, by contrast, which require applicants to relocate first and then begin the job search, may make for a better overall position but much longer slack time in a new country. In sum, though, the general rule of thumb is this: positions secured at a distance cannot be thoroughly investigated (moving the risk involved to the job itself), while positions secured in country ensure a quality work environment once opportunity comes knocking (moving the risk to what could be a lengthy job search).
Again, every country – and every applicant – is a little different. While there are thousands of jobs, there are also thousands of applicants – and each and every one of them is also wondering how to teach English abroad. In the end, though, remember this: knowledge is power. The more you know about the situation before you begin the better decisions you can make throughout the process – and the sooner you can begin your exciting new career abroad!